Contacts herb

Sorting through your contact list is like weeding a garden in the late fall, writes columnist Herb Benham. Some things you remember planting, others you don’t and a few things you wonder why you did.

Want to have fun? Prune your contact list. Sorting through contacts is like weeding a garden in the late fall. Some things you remember planting, others you don’t and a few things you wonder why you did.

Contacts are divided between personal and business.

Handymen are important. I went through a Ray phase. All the handymen were named Ray and when I told people that Ray was doing some work, they asked which Ray I was referring to. It was like the Seinfeld where Kramer gets lost and Jerry tries to help him by asking him whether he is close to Ray’s Pizza, Famous Ray’s or Original Ray’s.

The Rays had one thing in common: They were either going into rehab, coming out of rehab, or disappearing into the charged ether as if they were spirits in the "Spoon River Anthology."

Some of the Rays would show up years later ready to resume the job as if we had seen each other the day before.

I have a Ray now and he is none of the above and if there is a handyman heaven, he will be sitting at the right hand of the Great Handyman in the sky.

You can’t have too many plumbers no matter whether you used them last week or five years ago. A good plumber — sometimes any plumber — is like gold, especially on weekends, during the holidays when you have a full house or when you’re on your way to a friend’s birthday beach retreat and your spouse is not.

People who work on garage doors. Underrated category. Keep at least two in your contacts because if your garage door won’t close, you’ll be sleeping in the garage between the fridge and the inversion table in order to protect your stuff.

Doctors with cell numbers. Those are keepers. Doctors are like plumbers. More is better.


Dead people can be a problem especially if you’re keen on keeping your list current. It’s not as if you are going to be contacting them soon or they you. I like to give them a moment of silence and then chop them like wheat.

That goes for you too, Dad. However, since I think of you often and you still appear in my dreams, I thought you’d understand. I have your little black book where you kept your contacts and that’s not going anywhere.

The woman who made cinnamon rolls but no longer does. I’m not mad at you; I still like your cinnamon rolls but you don’t make them anymore so you’re a goner.

The bike mechanic who moved to New York. He was good, very good but he is now far away. Thanks and goodbye, forever.

How about the couples who divorced or one spouse is deceased and it becomes clear you liked the one who is gone more than the one who is not? Talk about cleansing, this is an official no-fault-contact-list divorce. Probable cause? Nobody likes anybody and now neither party has to pretend that they do.

Some of us have a few famous people, or almost famous in their contacts. They may be classmates in high school who made a name for themselves while you toiled in relative obscurity. The disparity in wealth, achievement and geography is enough in itself to press the delete button.

I have Judy Collins' number but I’m keeping it. Women who sing like she sings are different. I’ll never understand why Lance Armstrong broke up with Sheryl Crow. You don’t break up with a voice like that.

I have an FBI agent and he’s staying too. With kids, you never know. Things could get sticky down at the bureau and you might need a badge on your side.

People from work who took better jobs and left town. They’re like famous people. No reason to have them around unless you’re deliberately trying to make yourself feel bad.

I had one last decision to make. My own contact information. Gone. Beat you to it.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.